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Welcome, to the world of nearly free hotel stays and airline flights!  We’re excited to share the “secrets” of what we do with you!

My name is Summer Hull and I’ve written this website, Mommy Points, for the last 3.5 years.  Don’t get scared off if you aren’t a “mommy”, or even a parent, as this site is for anyone who wants to travel a little more for a lot less. 

My family in Kauai last month

My family in Kauai last month

In the world of late night infomercials with “free” Ginsu knives, Facebook scams, and Nigerian emails, the idea of getting airline flights and hotels almost for free sounds too good to be true, right?   There must be a big catch, right?  Well, my family is living proof that this is real, there’s no catch, and that lots of everyday families can and should leverage everyday opportunities for big travel rewards.

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My four year old in Alaska this summer

How does “nearly free” travel work?

These days so many companies are handing out airline miles, hotel points, credit card points, travel promotions, and “free” nights in order to try and get your business.  We simply decided to take them up on their offers.  We aren’t doing anything illegal, immoral, or under-handed, we are simply leveraging the things we do in our daily lives to earn nearly free travel opportunities.

For example, there are lots of rewards credit cards out there (some are better than others, and I’ll help you sort through that based on your travel goals), that will offer free hotel nights or lots of miles as a sign-up bonus.  Just as examples, The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® awards 50,000 miles after your first purchase, the Hyatt Visa gives two free hotel nights at any Hyatt worldwide after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, and my overall favorite card for most miles and points beginners, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card awards 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after $4,000 in spending in the first 90 days (plus an extra 5,000 if you add an authorized user to the card).

Paris Lights

Paris in the spring

My family gets rewards credit cards and the associated sign-up bonuses, and then uses those cards for everyday purchases to earn even more points.  We charge nearly everything including groceries, gas, car insurance, doctor’s appointments, cell phone bills, and even some Pre-K expenses.  We also like to pay for as much as possible with cards that pay a category bonus such as using The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card for 3x at US grocery stores (up to $6,000) and 2x on US gas stations + a 50% points bonus if you use the card 30 times or more in a calendar month.

We then pay off the credit cards each month to avoid interest and fees and rack up thousands of miles and points each month as a result.  Some cards have no annual fee, some have an introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, and some do have an annual fee but the rewards you get can offset that fee (by a significant margin).

Rewards credit cards are just one part of the strategy.  We also do almost all of our shopping online through portals that give you miles for purchases we were going to make anyway – including for things like dog food, toilet paper, paper towels, and shoes for my daughter’s ever growing feet.  We are also ruthless about registering for promotions out there to earn bonus miles for eating out, on travel, and more.

Sound time consuming?  That’s what I’m here for.  I’ll keep you in the loop on the best promos and tactics so you don’t have to spend your time searching all around the internet for the best deals.

Earn points without travel

Won’t this ruin by credit and cause me to go into debt?

That’s the “fear” that keeps more people from taking advantage, but the reality is that my husband and I have been at this for years, and when we refinanced our house this year we were still in the very top credit rating in terms of interest rates.  It’s true that your credit score will likely drop a couple of points when you apply for a new credit card because of the inquiry on your credit score.  However, that impact is temporary (think six months), and your score may ultimately go up because of the increased available credit.  As long as you continue to pay your bills on time and don’t rack up debt, this will not tank your credit score.

That said, if you have a big loan coming up, like a mortgage, then hold off on getting new credit cards and no matter what you do, go slowly.  Even having just one good rewards earning credit card can be all it takes to get your family on the path to amazing vacations for much, much less.

How to get started!

The good news is that by coming here you are already well on your way to traveling much further for much less!  I post new information nearly every day about simple strategies and opportunities to use miles, points, and travel deals to visit places near and far.  You can come directly to the website, or simply sign-up for our free once-a-day email that will send the deals straight to your inbox without you having to lift a finger.

Sign-up for Once Daily Emails:

I also encourage you to follow @Mommy_Points on Twitter or Facebook as you can stay in the loop even faster via social media.

If you want an even simpler all-in-one package to learn and apply these strategies then download our free PDF ebook, Beginners Guide to Nearly Free Travel.  Doing so will also keep you in the loop on our “Travel Nearly for Free” ebook series that just launched last month!

Mommy Point's Beginner's Guide to Earning Nearly Free Travel

The Mommy Points Beginner’s Guide to Earning Nearly Free Travel (PDF ebook) – See more at: http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/frequent-flyer-toolkits/#sthash.sujxHbJi.dpuf

If you want some inspiration or information on places we have been using miles and points, then check out write-ups of some of our trips here.  Almost all of them have been fully- or partially-funded by miles and points.  We’ve been lucky enough to go to places near and far, including London, Paris, Hawaii, New York City, Tokyo, Alaska, Disney, Switzerland, and of course, Grandma’s House.

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Enjoying the Maldives for my husband’s 40th

You really can fly around the country or around the world, sometimes even in a lie-flat seat, for a small fraction of what you think it costs.  In fact, sometimes it can even be nearly free.  Really.  Keep reading and you’ll be taking off before you know it.

In the meantime, feel free to tweet me questions @Mommy_Points or ask away in the comments section!

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Congratulations!! I really enjoyed the feature story on Nightline tonight. I learned a lot of useful tips and looking forward to saving miles for nice trips. I’m from Houston too. 🙂 Pam

  2. Congrats … but I guess I have to hope I dvr’d the correct episode coming up in another hour+ . It is to late to wait up for it.

    Thanks MP for all of your energy spent on this site-it has provided some inspiration to me to keep traveling with the family.

  3. Congratulations! It was great to see y’all, the scenes of your family together were my favorite but very much also got a kick out of standing by a gift card rack and stacking discounts, deals, and rebates. I bet Little C is just BEAMING this morning over being on TV!

  4. Awesome appearance on Nightline! It was cool seeing your family enjoying a trip together (though it was probably weird being filmed everywhere you went! LOL!). I’ve read the Mommy Points blog from the beginning — and I’m not even a Mom! I love your straightforward and honest approach to earning and using miles and points. You do a great job of breaking down each type of deal so travelers can figure out what might work for them. Thanks for helping so many of us travel for nearly free!

  5. Does this strategy work well for a family of 5? I gave up using airline points years ago & switched to cash rewards programs after a terrible experience redeeming miles for my then family of 4. What tips do you have for collecting & redeeming miles for larger families? Will this work for those who don’t earn lots of miles & hotel rewards points from business travel. We typically fly on a trip once every 2-3 years and stay in hotels only about 5-7 nights a year.

  6. No Nightline viewers – read this – if ms mommy points posts – I
    I think with the great exposure / free advertising you got from this piece, comes the responsibility of laying ALL cards on the table re: how much compensation you receive for all those clicks, how much you get for affiliate links when someone applies for credit cards using your links, which of those cards you have and use yourself, when you cancel those cards, how you meet the spend requirements, how many freebies you get as a “blogger”, and MOST IMPORTANTLY WHY ONE MUST PAY BALANCE ON CARDS IN FULL EACH MONTH.
    I think the segment was one sided given that it did not get into the details of the downside to this “game” . I have become disillusioned with the majority of bloggers lately particularly those who continued to push the Delta cards even though they don’t collect those worthless sky pesos themselves…

  7. What will forever be interesting to me from some in this hobby is anger/frustration/outrage when the entire picture isn’t laid out, and also the same level of “outrage”(or sometimes more) when the entire picture is laid out in detail.

    I had no control over how the two full days of filming were put into a six minute clip. I can tell you the granola bars were relevant to not wasting tons of money on snacks on the trip. Gift cards at the grocery store are also important, though I was careful to keep that on a level that I think is relevant for beginners and a TV audience.

    The United Club theoretically could be accessed with the two passes that come with the United card, or via buying them cheap on eBay. The United Club card with unlimited entries also has first year free at times. Limited bags saves everyone time, money, or both. I don’t check because I don’t want delays along the way.

    The PH promo I won with my own personal FB entry, not from Mommy Points, and while filming they told me how many took the time to enter. It was a very small number. The odds were very good which was the point of the segment. Take the time to enter those easy things. I have no reason to think that the individual hotel did the research to find out I had this blog before I won, but anything is possible. Either way, the odds were great.

    No one should do everything we do. 19 trips is crazy. Almost as crazy as 19 kids. Lots of people can and should take pieces of what we do to save tons on trips. Some things really can be free. Others can be much, much less than many people think possible. As much as there are warnings shared in the comments here that six minutes of video didn’t show everything involved (of course it didn’t!), there should be equal warnings that lots of people in this hobby don’t want others in because it can be that lucrative. Newbies are intentionally scared away on a daily basis by people who want to keep them out.

    Yes, this is my job. Yes, the blog is my business. It would be amazing to live in a world where I could devote infinite time to this for free, but time (at least when you have a family) is the one thing that will never be free.

  8. I saw the promo on my DVR after returning from a business trip and I must say kudos to you for starting a great hustle. For the average consumer this “strategy” will lead to a lifetime of debt and misery but it is working for your family. How many credit cards do you actually have? How often are you opening/closing accounts? What happens if your spouse loses their job or a major illness occurs?

    I would argue that taking a family on a road trip to a major city would cost me “nearly free” without having to spend $3000 on a credit card.

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